Sunday 18 February 2018

Pellegrini: Frank Lampard is not a traitor

Man City boss hits out at Arsene Wenger and Chelsea fans

Frank Lampard has joined Manchester City on loan
Frank Lampard has joined Manchester City on loan

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hit back at Arsène Wenger's criticism over the club's loan signing of Frank Lampard and believes Chelsea fans would be wrong to call the midfielder "a traitor".

Lampard left Chelsea in June when his contract expired after 13 years at Stamford Bridge and joined Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC, who are City's sister club in the United States.

The 36-year-old has since moved to the Etihad Stadium on a six-month loan deal from New York - a switch that has angered some Chelsea fans - and will return to the MLS club in January ahead of the start of their season in March.

City will pay all of Lampard's salary for the entire duration of his temporary stint, understood to be in the region of £90,000 a week.

Manuel Pellegrini, right, and Arsene Wenger
Manuel Pellegrini, right, and Arsene Wenger

Wenger claimed City have used the signing of Lampard as a ploy "to get round" Uefa's Financial Fair Play rules, which City failed to meet last season and were duly fined £49m - of which £32m is suspended - and told they can only name a 21-man squad for this season's Champions League campaign.

But ahead of Sunday's Community Shield clash with Arsenal, Pellegrini dismissed Wenger's comments about City's loan deal for Lampard.

"Was it done correctly? I think so. We didn't spend any money on Frank Lampard from New York City," Pellegrini said.

"He wants to continue playing and he is a good player and very important for our team.

"We didn't spend any money on him so the rules of Financial Fair Play doesn't have any relation with Lampard.

"We know we have restrictions, we are obligated to do all we want to do within the restrictions."

Pellegrini has also moved to take the sting out of any ill feeling towards Lampard that might come his way from Chelsea supporters.

City are due to host Jose Mourinho's side at the Etihad Stadium next month which could see Lampard feature against his former employers.

"He was a free player so I also don't understand the reaction of Chelsea fans who say he is a traitor because he is not at Chelsea," Pellegrini said.

"The problem was not that Frank Lampard didn't want to sign another contract with Chelsea, Chelsea didn't want him anymore."

Wenger's comments have added extra spice to the game at Wembley, although City are set to be without eight key players for the traditional curtain raiser.

Pellegrini confirmed defenders Martin Demichelis, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna will not be involved while midfielders Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero and Lampard are all set to miss out along with injured striker Alvaro Negredo.

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